More than halfway through the season, a work stoppage once again threatens to derail the Arena Football League. Even so, the Spokane Shock say they are unaffected by the latest news.
Word of a strike surfaced several days ago, but players for the Cleveland Gladiators decided to take the first step this week. The team agreed not to play in Friday's game against Pittsburgh – the game slated to be televised on NFL Network.
Shock on FOX
The director of the players union, Ivan Soto, said in a statement that this most recent work stoppage was not directly related to wages, rather because the League "has shown a complete unwillingness to negotiate in good faith." The players union and the league have yet to reach a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
A spokesman for the Shock said Friday the stoppage in Cleveland is an "isolated incident" and he doesn't predict the stoppage will affect players in Spokane. He also said, after speaking with team representatives fromKansas City who were already in Spokane, that Saturday's game against the Command would go on as planned. That game is slated to be televised on FOX at 7 p.m. (PT).
"It's unfortunate timing," said Shock majority owner Brady Nelson. "They [the players' union] feel this is their last opportunity to make a statement [on a nationally-televised game]. We [the owners] have negotiated all season, hoping to come to a long-term CBA, one that's good for players and teams."
The AFL season began last March with similar controversy. Current Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley was one of the players fired from the Pittsburgh Power hours before the team's first game against Orlando. The team declined to bring him back once the controversy settled, and Rowley returned to Spokane after Erik Meyer went down in the Shock's first game of the season.
At issue in the latest negotiations are wages, but also off-the-field issues. Player fines are problem, according to Adam Markowitz, a writer for ArenaFan.com. So are travel expenses for players who are traded from one team to another.